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Amplify. Amplify. Love. Love. Listen. Listen.

derricklweston

Another day, another unarmed black man dead. Terence Crutcher’s SUV stalled as he was coming back from community college classes. He was studying music appreciation and was very active in his church choir. Seeing his picture reminds me of any number of big dudes I know who can sing their lungs out. From his view in a helicopter, a Tulsa police officer thought he looked like a bad dude. Instead of trying to help the man with the stalled car, two officers made him put his hands up as he approached them for help. As he reached into his SUV, probably to grab some form of identification, which again, should not have been necessary because he was the one in distress, he was tased and then shot. He was unarmed. He was the father of four.

I feel like ranting and raving about how angry and scared this makes me…

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I am convinced that one of the key roles of the church in our time is helping people to see that there is no separation between the sacred and the secular.  That every moment of every day has the potential to be holy and God-filled.  Thus, I was intrigued by the title of the new book “Hearing God in Conversation: How to Recognize His Voice Everywhere”.

 

Overall, I found this book very accessible, written in a style that made the pages go quickly.  The author used every day examples that were relatable to my life. As I read through the chapters, the book increased my desire to seek God’s voice in my life.

There were a few issues for me with this book, however. The book is written with exclusively male language for God which I find troublesome.  I believe the author could have made his point while reaching a broader audience had he used inclusive language.  Also, in several chapters the author is discussing ways of encountering God that are long held traditions within the Christian faith such as Lectio Divina and spiritual direction.  He writes as if these were new concepts not ancient ones.

I am glad I read this book and feel like it helped spur me to seek a deeper conversation with God.  Despite my critiques, I would recommend this book to those searching for a more intimate relationship with God.

 

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the author and/or publisher through the Speakeasy blogging book review network. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR,Part 255.

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When my copy of Steeped arrived in the mail, I sat and turned through the pages, salivating at all the delicious foods pictured there.  The pictures and layouts had me dreaming of hosting tea parties and warm summer soirees.

 

Life happened and I only ended up having time to make three of the recipes in the book.  They were each from a different section of the book and each called for a different kind of tea.  I live in a small, rural town so I decided to make recipes with ingredients I knew I could find here.  I ended up choosing Mint Pea Soup, Smoky Tomato Soup with Parmesan Thyme Crisps, and Blueberry Scones with Rooibos Honey Butter.

 

Overall, the recipes were easy to follow.  I really liked the creamy tomato soup and the crisps added crunch and flavor that paired wonderfully with the soup.  The blueberry scones were easy to make and the honey butter made them extra decadent.  The mint pea soup ended up tasting mostly just of blended peas and wasn’t a favorite at my house.

 

While each of the recipes called for a different tea, none of the teas ended up being a dominant flavor in the end.  I kept searching for their flavor in each of the dishes but never found I could distinguish them.  I was hoping for more distinct tea flavors in the dishes.

 

I am looking forward to trying more and more of the dishes in Steeped.  Maybe one day I’ll actually get to host a tea party and serve one of the whole menus found in the book.  Until then, I have a beautiful book full of gorgeous food pictures and great recipes to add to my recipe book collection.

You can learn more about the book here: http://anneliesz.com/steeped-book/

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the author and/or publisher through the Speakeasy blogging book review network. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR,Part 255.

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Prayer is like learning styles. Every person has their own and what works for one person doesn’t work for another. Pray like a Gourmet offers up suggestions for prayer that are varied and appeal to lots of different personalities and styles. David Brazzeal’s writing style is relaxed and conversational. The way he offers up the different prayer practices invites the reader to try them without pressure of “getting it right”. He makes it less intimidating to try new types of prayer.

With the title of Pray like a Gourmet, I was hoping for more prayer practices that incorporated food but the title is simply a metaphor for prayer used throughout the book and doesn’t translate to actual food prayer. Also, the layout of the book and style of the pages sometimes makes the print hard to read because there are dark and light colored type.

Overall, I am glad to have this book as a resource for my own prayer life and for helping to teach my children about prayer and also to use some of the prayer practices in the church that I lead. If you are looking for a nice entry into prayer that is easy to understand and simple to read, this book would be a great choice.

Learn more about the book and author here:  http://davidbrazzeal.com.

Disclosure of Material Connection:  I received this book free from the author and/or publisher through the Speakeasy blogging book review network.  I was not required to write a positive review.  The opinions I have expressed are my own.  I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.

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This is why Rocky and I get along. We have similar philosophies of ministry.

YoRocko!

I have a nagging critique that dogs a lot of my ministry work, especially work with youth: not Christian enough.

That our relationships with youth must issue in distinctively Christian expressions, like prayer or devotional lessons–and that interactions with youth that lack those expressions are fine but not really “ministry”–is a weight that I think a lot of us are bearing for no good reason. It’s the “They could get ‘relationships’ anywhere” dig.

The problem with that thinking is that trusting and reciprocal relationships with adults who aren’t their parents and aren’t paid to spend time with them can’t, for most youth, be had anywhere. We have multiplied the number of adults in relationship with teenagers to include coaches, teachers, tutors, scout leaders, college advisers, and so on. Yet all of those adults, in addition to being paid for their time with youth, have an agenda for them. It’s a good agenda…

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I think this articulates what I try to say about this particular platitude far better than I could.

john pavlovitz

SadGirlwindow

That phrase.

We’ve all received it personally gift-wrapped by well-meaning friends, caring loved ones, and kind strangers. It usually comes delivered with the most beautiful of intentions; a buffer of hope raised in the face of the unimaginably painful things we sometimes experience in this life.

It’s a close, desperate lifeline thrown out to us when all other words fail:

Everything happens for a reason.

I’ve never had a tremendous amount of peace with the sentiment. I think it gives the terrible stuff too much power, too much poetry; as if there must be nobility and purpose within the brutal devastation we may find ourselves sitting in. In our profound distress, this idea forces us to run down dark, twisted rabbit trails, looking for the specific part of The Greater Plan that this suffering all fits into.

It serves as an emotional distraction, one that cheats us out of the full measure of our real-time grief and outrage. We stutter and…

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My friend Derrick is wise, thoughtful, and faithful.

derricklweston

I’ve been in Baltimore for going on three months. It’s hardly any time at all. There’s a part of me that doesn’t feel entitled to what I am feeling tonight. I’ve fallen in love with this city pretty quickly. It has been a refuge for me, a place to start over. As a Steelers fan, I am predisposed to wanting to hate this city, but there is so much more to life than sportsball and the people of this city are pretty lovable. Pittsburgh is a city of neighborhoods. Baltimore is more so. I work in three neighborhoods separated by mere blocks. They each have a distinct flavor to them despite their proximity and overlapping concerns. Baltimore is about twice the size of Pittsburgh. It has all of the amenities you would want in a major metropolis while feeling interconnected enough that you could easily find yourself running into the…

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